5 ways to celebrate Constitution Day

Deepen your understanding of the rights, roles, and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship.

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Friday, Sept. 17, is Constitution Day in the United States, which commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. Here are five ways to celebrate the 234th anniversary of our nation’s brief, yet exemplary founding document. Enjoy!

Reclaim 'we'.

The Constitution begins with the word “we,” and that’s what Civic Nebraska focuses on – spreading the understanding that we are all co-creators of our shared democratic reality. Often, too much focus can drift to “me,” and that’s a problem for democracy. In our new book Reclaiming We, we outline 20 everyday acts anyone can take to strengthen the common good and return Pluribus into balance with Unum. Get it here for $10.

Be a film buff.

Watching movies might not be the first thing you think of when you consider being an active American citizen, but it’s true. Here’s our list of great films featuring the Constitution for your perusal and reflection. From The Post (pictured) and 12 Monkeys to The Untouchables and Iron Jawed Angels, we highlight the best motion pictures that animate, investigate, and demarcate our supreme law of the land. Knock ’em off your list at your leisure.

Take the test.

Sept. 17 is also known as Citizenship Day, and many new immigrants to our country will take the opportunity to recite an oath to become American citizens. Before our new countrymen can be naturalized, however, they must pass a test to confirm their understanding of our nation’s tenets, values, and institutions. How would you do on this test? Here’s a practice test (along with answers) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Reflect on our rights and responsibilities by quizzing a friend, family member or colleague – or have them quiz you.

Keep it real.

When the Founders gathered in 1787 to write the new Constitution, they did it for contemporary reasons: to replace the impotent Articles of Confederation, to prevent another “Shay’s Rebellion,” and to create a government of, by, and for the people, complete with checks and balances. Certainly, they couldn’t picture the rise of the internet, a globalized and digital society, strains on privacy, the proliferation of automatic weapons, climate change, and the “bully pulpit” giving the presidency an outsized role. So, how does our Constitution stand the test of time? Take part in this discussion about how the document guides us on many modern issues.

Read it.

At just 4,543 words – 7,762 if you count all amendments – the U.S. Constitution is among the briefest in the world (By comparison, India’s is 146,385 words; Nigeria’s is 66,263, and Brazil’s is 64,488). We pack a lot into those permanent-yet-amendable words, which ultimately bent the arc of global history (and continues to bend it today). Our Constitution is imperfect, of course, and it is often the subject of misinterpretation for political purposes. But we are proud to report that its fundamental freedoms endure – and so does our nation.
Happy Constitution Day, everyone. The Union, and the Constitution, forever!
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